Published January 13, 2015
Evgeni Malkin continued his stellar postseason play with a goal and an assist, as the top-seeded Pittsburgh Penguins handled the Ottawa Senators, 4-1, in Game 1 of this Eastern Conference semifinal from CONSOL Energy Center.
Malkin registered at least one point in all six games of Pittsburgh's first- round victory over the New York Islanders and added two more in Tuesday's triumph to push his point total to 13 (3G, 10A).
Tomas Vokoun posted his third straight victory since replacing Marc-Andre Fleury prior to Game 5 against the Isles. The veteran netminder made 35 saves Tuesday and has turned away 101-of-105 shots since taking over between the pipes.
"Vokoun, since he's come in, he's been great," Pittsburgh forward Jarome Iginla said. "You can tell he's feeling good, and I think it's definitely a good situation to have as a team when you have two confident goaltenders like we have."
Chris Kunitz also notched a goal and an assist, with Paul Martin and Pascal Dupuis potting the other goals for the Penguins, who finished 2-for-4 on the power play and added a short-handed goal in the victory.
Colin Greening scored the lone Ottawa goal, while Craig Anderson was tagged for all four goals on 30 shots for the Senators, who upended the second-seeded Montreal Canadiens in five games to reach the second round.
"The difference of the game is obviously the execution of their power play," Ottawa coach Paul MacLean lamented. "And giving up a shorthanded goal accentuates our special-teams play much more."
Game 2 of this series is scheduled for Friday in Pittsburgh.
Pittsburgh's power-play unit went to work early after Ottawa center Kyle Turris was whistled for high-sticking just 1:12 into the contest.
On the ensuing man advantage, Martin rifled a low shot from the right point that deflected off Ottawa defenseman Jared Cowen in front and skipped past the right pad of Anderson past a Brenden Morrow screen to make it 1-0 at the 2:41 mark.
Ottawa answered just over two minutes later when Erik Condra flipped a backhander on net from the left corner that snuck between the post and the pad of Vokoun and sat in the crease before Greening pounded it home at 4:51.
But it was all Pittsburgh from there, as the Pens scored three unanswered goals, starting with Malkin's marker at 12:15.
James Neal started the play with a steal behind the Ottawa net before sliding a pass to Kunitz on the short left boards. Kunitz then found Malkin with position in front and the Pittsburgh center one-touched the disc into the back of the net for a 2-1 lead.
Pittsburgh's power play struck again late in the second after Cory Conacher was called for holding at 17:57.
Less than a minute into the advantage, Iginla was denied on a backhand attempt from the low right side, but Kunitz was there on the doorstep to clean up the mess, giving the Penguins a 3-1 lead with 1:27 remaining.
Skating shorthanded just past the midpoint of the third, Dupuis and Matt Cooke raced in on a 2-on-1 rush and Dupuis patiently made his way into the low left circle before rifling a wrister that beat Anderson high to the short side to give the Penguins a comfortable three-goal lead with 8:36 remaining.
This is the fourth all-time playoff series between the clubs. Ottawa won the first encounter in the 2007 Eastern quarterfinals, before Pittsburgh ousted the Sens from the first round by a sweep in 2008 and in 2010 after six games ... Ottawa defenseman Eric Gryba left the game in the second period with an upper-body injury and did not return ... Anderson and Vokoun were teammates with the Florida Panthers from 2007-09 ... Iginla finished with an assist to extend his postseason point streak to seven games ... Dupuis' goal pushed his point streak to seven games.